The Mind

How children ‘catch’ fear

Scared of flowers? Then don’t let that fear show in front of children. Scientists have found that children can become scared of apparently harmless objects if they see adults react in a frightened way.

What is an itch?

An itch is anything that makes you want to scratch. We have itch receptors in the top two layers of our skin and they look very similar to pain receptors – essentially they are just bare nerve fibres.

Can chewing gum help you concentrate?

Yes, American soldiers have been routinely issued with gum to improve concentration and relieve stress since the First World War and several studies have since demonstrated that it improves performance in both visual and audio memory tasks.

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Why do we get bored?

Natural selection has favoured individuals with the capacity to feel bored because they are more likely to discover or create things that improve their survival chances, or to look for a new partner and so spread their genes more widely.

Why do we yawn?

No-one is sure why we yawn. We do know that yawning increases with levels of some of the brain’s neurotransmitters, including dopamine and serotonin, and decreases with levels of the opium-like endorphins.

Linking music to colour

When you listen to a sad, reflective song, what colour come to mind? How about a happy, jaunty tune? Researchers have now shown that people tend to associate different colours with different songs, depending on how they make us feel.